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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 April 2006, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Snowstorm ends Sunderland match
Referee Mike Riley
Riley made the bold decision
Sunderland's Premiership match against Fulham was abandoned after 21 minutes because of bad weather conditions at the Stadium of Light.

Heavy snow had made the pitch heavy and difficult to play on leaving referee Mike Riley with little choice but to bring the players off the pitch.

Fulham striker Brian McBride had put the visitors in front after converting a square ball from Steed Malbranque.

Birmingham's draw meant Sunderland kept alive their slim Premiership hopes.

But many, including those closely connected to the Wearside club, have thought it is only a matter of time before their relegated status is confirmed.

Sunderland had been hoping to record their first home win of the season, and against lowly-placed Fulham, there was more than just a faint hope of ending the unwanted record.

However, high winds and heavy snow meant that any chances created would be likely to come from poor defending or a slip.

A slip ended Rory Delap's participation in the match after 10 minutes when he clashed with fellow Sunderland player George McCartney on the touchline.

Delap was taken off after sustaining a facial injury and replaced by Tommy Miller, but only after McBride had given Fulham the lead from eight yards after beginning the move from outside the area.

Sunderland's defenders were unable to reach McBride in time partly because of the heavy pitch under foot, allowing the American to take full advantage.

The snow continued to fall heavily and after the third consultation with fourth official Eddie Ilderton, and with Sunderland caretaker boss Kevin Ball and Fulham manager Chris Coleman, Riley decided to abandon the game.

Ball said he felt Riley had no choice but to call the game off.

"I was standing in the technical area and at times I couldn't see across the pitch," he said.

"I was getting pelted with - I don't know whether you would call it snow, ice or God knows what - but they were the biggest lumps I've ever been hit with.

"In the end, the safety of the players is of paramount importance, and it was getting to the stage then where I think he had no choice. I think he made the right decision.

"(Fulham boss) Chris (Coleman) and I had a laugh and a chat about it because he was 1-0 up, but he would have no complaints."

Riley said he took the option to stop the match because he did not want to put the players at risk.

"It was pretty exceptional weather conditions. When we went out before the game we could see standing water," said the referee.

"As the game went on the snow continued to fall, the pitch got wetter and wetter and it was obviously becoming dangerous to the players.

"The longer it went on, the more likely that players would slip and slide and be injured and you don't want that."


Sunderland: Davis, Hoyte, Breen, Danny Collins, McCartney, Lawrence, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Delap (Miller 9), Brown, Stead.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Nosworthy, Kyle, Daryl Murphy.

Fulham: Niemi, Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Bridge, Malbranque, Diop, Elliott, Boa Morte, Helguson, McBride.
Subs Not Used: Crossley, Volz, Radzinski, John, Christanval.

Goals: McBride 9.

Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).

Abandoned - because of waterlogged pitch




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Referee Mike Riley


Interview: Fulham boss Chris Coleman


Interview: Sunderland caretaker boss Kevin Ball



SEE ALSO
Ups and downs
07 Apr 06 |  Football


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